Comedy books are an underrated genre, perhaps because it’s rare for a writer to nail that perfect delivery and scene-setting. Jokes hit differently in novels versus films, and it takes a lot of talent and attention to their craft for an author to get it just right.
When a book makes you genuinely laugh out loud, you know it’s a keeper. Here are some of the best comedy books to read when you need a side-splitting page-turner on your TBR.
- Delete This at Your Peril (2007)
- The Timewaster Letters (2011)
- Almost Interesting (2015)
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
- Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (2015)
- Sh*t My Dad Says (2010)
- We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (2017)
- Hyperbole and a Half: Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (2013)
- Go the F**k to Sleep (2011)
- The Cat’s Guide to Human Behavior (2013)
- What I’d Say to the Martians: And Other Veiled Threats (2008)
- Our Dumb World (2008)
Delete This at Your Peril (2007)
Genre: Fiction, Business, and Office Humor
If you hate spammers and scammers that fill your email box daily, this book will make you laugh. Bob Servant is a former window cleaner who loves to play tricks on people.
After getting fed up with all the spam in his box, Bob decides to write back to the scammers as a joke. But it quickly becomes even funnier as the replies get crazier the longer they go on.
Fair warning: some might find the language vulgar. Others will find it hilarious—and more than appropriate, when going head-to-head with shady scam artists.
The Timewaster Letters (2011)
Genre: Fiction, Humorous Essays
Similar to Delete This at Your Peril, The Timewaster Letters targets old-fashioned junk mail.
Robin Cooper writes to these companies to try to sell them some seriously weird ideas, like scarecrows that eat birds and a book for kids called Kelly Telly and His Smelly Belly.
But he doesn’t stop with companies who send him things: he also writes to random people, and even to Prince Charles. This is a must-read.
Almost Interesting (2015)
Genre: Biographies, Celebrities and Pop Culture
Don’t let the unassuming title fool you: you’ll laugh just reading the first paragraph of the introduction. Chapters include standards like “Growing Up,” hilarious surprises like “My First Hooker,” and the epilogue: “The Time I Did Too Much Coke.”
If you are offended by bad language, skip this one, because Spade loves his curse words.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Adventure
You’ve probably heard about this cult classic. While not exactly “laugh out loud” funny, it does have humor, and it’s a unique and interesting look at human life and its meaning.
A group of aliens, the Vogons, destroy earth to construct a hyperspace bypass. Arthur Dent is the last surviving man, thanks to alien Ford Prefect, who’s writing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The pair hitchhike on a Vogon ship, explore the galaxy, and encounter other aliens and one other human survivor.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (2015)
Genre: Autobiographical, Anxieties, and Phobias
The basic message of Furiously Happy is “When life gives you lemons…”—only a lot funnier.
This one has some adult humor and bad language but is a seriously funny take on mental illness, a combination very few authors could write so brilliantly. It’s not just about making the best of bad situations: it’s about making every “okay” moment a great one.
Lawson pens her memoir with honesty and hilarity, covering topics from sheepskin condoms, to piling chameleons on top of a bowl of Skittles. For a laugh-out-loud read with heart, check this one out immediately.
Sh*t My Dad Says (2010)
Genre: Internet and Social Media Humor, Parenthood
The title tells you all you need to know about this comedy book.
From potty training to table manners, to accidents, to birthday parties, Justin Halper’s dad has some brutally funny advice about…well, everything.
Chapter titles include “Not Everyone’s Balls Should be Busted,” and “Focus on Living, Dying is the Easy Part.”
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (2017)
Genre: Humor Essays; Love, Sex, and Marriage
From her Bachelorette application to awkward sexual encounters, Samantha Irby covers it all and shares her take on life while making you laugh.
Another of the “bad language comedy books,” this one won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but rest assured the foul language and blue humor serve the stories well.
Hyperbole and a Half: Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (2013)
Genre: Comics, Nonfiction Graphic Novels
This book’s description alone gives you a great idea of what’s inside: it includes a disclaimer of what, within the description, are lies. Brosh’s humor comes through in every last line, but also some horrible illustrations that will make you laugh until you cry.
Go the F**k to Sleep (2011)
Genre: Parodies, Parent and Family Humor
Parents will treasure this “adult kid’s book” highlighting the struggles of putting children to bed.
Every page is a gem, such as: “Everything is dark, and the whales are all down in the deep. I will read you one last book if you promise you will go the f**k to sleep.” It just gets funnier as you go.
The Cat’s Guide to Human Behavior (2013)
Xina Marie Uhl
Genre: Short Reads, Pets, and Animal Humor
Ever wondered what your cat thinks of you? The Cat’s Guide to Human Behavior is here to provide invaluable insight into exactly that.
They wonder why you stare at a box on a wall for hours at a time, why you do not sleep as much as they do, and why females are friendlier to cats than males. They also share some good ways to wake you like walking on your face, meowing loudly, or biting your feet.
Even dog people will laugh hysterically at this funny feline perspective.
What I’d Say to the Martians: And Other Veiled Threats (2008)
Genre: Short Stories, Deep Thought, Comedy Sketches
Known for his New Yorker wit, Saturday Night Live bits, and riotous Deep Thoughts, Jack Handey is also celebrated as one of America’s most enduring humorists.
In What I’d Say to the Martians, he dishes up his trademark accessible weirdness through various short stories, sketches, and musings. From “How to Prepare a Wild-Caught Rabbit for a Meal” to “My Third Best Friend” (which ends up being his wife, Brenda), Handey will have you gasping for air and buying up copies for friends.
Our Dumb World (2008)
Genre: Geographical Satire, Political Satire
Brought to you courtesy of The Onion, arguably the planet’s most hilarious fake news source, Our Dumb World is the most outrageously fun faux atlas you’ll ever encounter.
Chock full of laugh-out-loud maps and graphics, this book skewers every corner of the world, from Nevada (“Where Everyone’s a Loser”) to Greenland (“The Largest Land Mass on Earth”).
Today’s news-parody consumer cannot possibly understand made-up current events without the context of fake world history and geography. That is why The Onion is publishing a world atlas: to help us.
The writing in comedy books requires the same qualities as comedic movies or stand-up routines: quick minds, sharp wit, and unflinching honesty. These books are standouts in the genre and will have you cracking up into the early hours as you promise yourself, “Just one more page.”
A booklover looking to expand their library and scopes of enjoyment should definitely look into the science fiction, apocalypse, and pandemic genres. Those are some great genres that will definitely make you want to keep turning the page.